Recently I took a little break from technology (not really by choice) which inspired me to write this piece.

So often you see people waiting in line to buy their groceries or a coffee, you see people sitting at restaurants with friends or alone, driving to or from work, even sitting in front of the television in the afternoon and what do all these images have in common? Someone is on their phone. This era sees people of all ages completely consumed by technology. How is it actually affecting us and our relationships?

I believe most people would find it extremely difficult to turn off their technology as it has become something that we hide behind. We use technology as a wall. People feel vulnerable sitting alone in a coffee shop. If they pick up their phones and look busy then they have something to ‘protect’ them. In this technology-driven world, people have become so used to socialising via technology that we aren’t able to socialise face-to-face. So, should a circumstance arise where there’s an opportunity to be approached – bam! We pull out our ‘technology shield’ and shut down any communication with a real human being that may have happened.take a break from technology

Parents have also become technology enablers. Sometimes we use technology to distract children and keep them quiet. Children are exposed to technology in so many forms that they are learning from a young age how to use it. Yes, some games on phones are educational but those are the rare few. I will ask you these questions; what is better for your child – playing on a swing with his friends or staring at a screen swiping left and right so that a character can avoid running into a train? What is more important for a child, sitting in front of the television or his parents reading a book to him? Essentially technology can take away a part of a child’s ability to create things with his imagination. At a young age, they are consumed by technology which could lead to inefficient social development – essential for a child’s growth.

Imagine this scenario, a child is playing with his toys, he is making up his own story and he is playing with his friends; he is learning to socialise face-to-face with the other child, he is learning to share, he is using his mind to imagine and create the story of these toys lives and problem solve. These are lessons that technology cannot teach. These are lessons that are learned through experiences and are vital to a child’s development.

Being a working parent is hard work, trust me I know. Your child will appreciate it so more if you just put away your phone, chatted to him about his day and interacted with him when you arrive home after not seeing him the whole day. Children see you as their superhero and will follow the example you lead. So if you encourage no technology in their life and yours at a certain time and create the right kind of attitude towards technology – one that is not obsessive, your child will adopt the same attitude.

Take a second to think about how often you look at your phone, check your Facebook for the tenth time that hour and see the same posts over and over again. For some reason you just continue to scroll and look at them again. Imagine using that accumulated time for something you enjoy or rather spending actual face time with your friends.

We all know that feeling of sitting with your friends, a glass of wine in hand and chatting about absolutely everything that you can think of for hours. Don’t you find that the second someone looks at their phone it instantly kills the mood because you know their attention is elsewhere? It’s time we learned how to be completely present when we are with people. If something is extremely important then someone will phone. Things said face to face have real meaning – a friend telling you they are engaged face to face rather that seeing the relationship status change on Facebook means so much more and a coffee to say congratulations is way better than a like on a status.

Personal, face-to-face interactions have so much more meaning! It’s what we lack in society at the moment. Think of the significance of a friend telling you they are engaged face-to-face rather than seeing the relationship status change on Facebook or grabbing a coffee to say congratulations instead of a simple reaction on their Facebook update.

Taking a break from technology is something everyone should consider – even if it’s just social media for a while. Social media puts a lot of pressure on people these days to stick to certain trends and keep up with social media icons. There is pressure to look and act a certain way and to essentially to validate ourselves through social media such as “if so many people like my photo then I must be pretty, if only a few people like it then I must be ugly or average looking”. In truth, everyone has this desire to be validated via social media.

I encourage you to switch off your technology and take some time to really listen and interact with those around you. Take some time to validate yourself and find happiness in the way you are and stop focusing on getting those likes, love who you are, be present for your loved ones and re-learn the value of meaningful personal interactions.

You never know what could happen or who you may meet the next time you’re alone at a coffee shop and take down your ‘technology shield’.

Much love, Danni xx

Danni xoxo

Danielle Combrink